Charles Dickens used to retreat to Broadstairs when he needed to get his head down and write, and after a couple of lungfuls of salty sea air in this coastal Kent town, it’s easy to see why. Hemmed by pretty bays and beaches, and framed by a backdrop of huge chalk cliffs and hidey-hole caves, it’s as postcard-perfect as they come. Now day trips and travel around the UK is allowed again, make like Charlie and plan a great escape to Broadstairs – that guy had good taste.
Please note:Some of the facilities and businesses we mention will be closed at the moment. Government advice is to avoid public transport so don’t travel by train or bus. Please be mindful of the people who live locally. If you decide to travel, check whether car parks are open before you set off and adhere to social distancing guidelines on your visit.
Head straight for Viking Bay beach. The town’s headline stretch is a pristine crescent of sand that shelters a tidal pool. Walk the clifftop Victoria Gardens and end up at Bleak House (now closed, but still sweet to look at) – the lofty spot where Dickens wrote ‘David Copperfield’.
Photograph: Dinko G Kyuchukov/Shutterstock.com
Stop for lunch
Grab fish and chips to go from Star of the Sea and finish up with a sticky gypsy tart from The Old Bakehouse. All three are a stone’s throw from the beach. For a cracking Sunday lunch with some of the best sea views in town, Wyatt & Jones is worth booking ahead for.
Drink like a local
The pub scene in Broadstairs boasts giant gastropubs like The Charles Dickens and quirky micropubs like The Chapel – a chapel-turned-bookshop-turned-alehouse that still somehow manages to be a bit of all three. For an A-Z of craft beers, try The Thirty-Nine Steps Brewhouse.
Soak up the vibes
Cycle the Viking Coastal Trail. This 25-mile loop circles the Isle of Thanet, and the views are something else. On foot? Walk the three-and-a-half-mile stretch to Margate. Pause at Botany Bay. The picturesque sandy beach is dotted with giant chalk stacks and backed by huge white cliffs, which hide a handful of smugglers’ caves.
Splash the cash
You’re more likely to splurge on seafood than shopping in Broadstairs, but what you will find in spades are art galleries, clustered around Viking Bay. The biggies are The Broadstairs Gallery and New Kent Art, but pop into The Little Art Gallery too.
If you only do one thing
If you don’t end up with ice cream dribbling down your arms, did you even visit the Great British Seaside? For masterful scoops of the sweet stuff, head to retro ice-cream parlour Morelli’s. The nostalgic spot, complete with formica tables, has been looking out over Viking Bay since 1932.
You don’t need to book an exotic getaway to enjoy the peaceful lap of waves as you lie in bed – just head to sunny Broadstairs and snap up a room at The Bay Tree Hotel. Housed in a homely-looking red brick Victorian building, this pretty B&B sits opposite the beach, and has been furnished with care and flair. Colourfully painted bedrooms are decked out with upcycled antiques, while bathrooms are pleasingly contemporary. Push the boat out and book an ensuite with a balcony and sea view. This Kent gem is possibly the perfect home-from-home. Grace Allen